What a perfect idea this little project is! I can still remember designing my dream house when I was a little girl. I filled notebooks with drawings of the rooms and where the furniture would be. I colored the walls all different colors (because this was way before the monochromatic neutral palettes that are popular today). One of my favorite memories was painting and decorating the bathroom in the first apartment my husband and I lived in. It had a claw foot tub- I mean a real one, antique and everything. So, I knew I would love this STEM Challenge! What about the students?
I know you are wondering how on earth kids are going to design their dream house and you are going to be so surprised! It’s a paper/pencil activity. All you need is graph paper, markers, and the requirement sheet.
- Practice finding the area of shapes.
- Draw the room dimensions.
- Have a little fun with crazy over-the-top rooms.
- Calculate the total area of the house.
- Determine the cost of the house!
Practice, Practice, Practice
Let’s be honest- this is a tricky skill. Students have a hard time remembering the difference between area and perimeter and how to find both measurements. Let me show you a fantastic way to practice this skill. You need some blue painter’s tape!
Just place the tape in various shapes using the tiles on your floor as a guide. I always include squares, rectangles, and some odd shapes like the one in the above photo.
To teach students how to find the perimeter I sit on the floor and show them that the side of one floor tile is one measure. Then I walk around on the blue tape and count off each measure. That’s the perimeter. I also leave a pencil on the spot I started on so I will know where to stop. Ha! After they practice a few of these then we move on to finding the area.
For this one, I walk across the shape and step on each square. The number I end up with is the area of the shape. And we use the number SQUARED! They totally get this because we are stepping on squares! This is such a wonderful way for students to visually see the perimeter is around the edge- the blue tape. And the area is inside the tape – all the inside squares. I hand them some graph paper and their job is to walk to each shape I have created, draw it, then count the perimeter measure and the area measure.
They really have fun doing this and can we talk about how “hands-on” this is! It’s great practice for getting ready for this challenge.
Moving on to the DREAM HOUSE
Students have graph paper and a requirements sheet. Their dream house must have certain rooms. After they draw the required rooms they are free to add their own options.
I added the required rooms after trying this challenge with a test group. I found that most of the students drew elaborate rooms, like basketball courts and donut shops but somehow did not have a kitchen. I guess they could just always eat donuts!
Adding Those Crazy Dream Rooms
With any space they have leftover students are free to add their own ideas for rooms. It only takes one person to announce they are having an indoor pool and the students take off with this idea. Soon there are libraries, gyms, water slides, and movie theaters.
You can see some of the additions this student had and you can also see that he is working on the room dimensions on his requirement sheet. This is where the learning starts!
Calculating the Dream House Area
For each room in the house, students must list its area. They must write the dimensions and then the area in square units.
You can see in the above photo that this house had 718 square units. And now, it gets really eye-opening! Students multiply their square units by a dollar amount to find the total cost of this dream home. They will actually gasp when they see that their house will cost more than $150,000!
Of course, it is at this point that I also bring in a talk about the size of the units on their paper. If each of the squares on their grid sheet is a one-foot square then the home they are dreaming of will fit inside our classroom. They have the dimensions of a tiny, tiny home.